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The Secrets That We Keep

June 16, 2010

The Heroic Age has begun and Steve Rogers is now the big man in charge of the United States’ security (and to an extent, the world’s).  In order to make sure everything’s safe, Steve Rogers established his own team of Avengers to do the dirty work behind the scenes to stop the threats no one knows about.  Secret Avengers #1 begins the tale of that team with Valkyrie and Black Widow undercover in Dubai.  They’re interested in some package, and they play nice with some fat business executive so they can get it.  But when said executive asks Valkyrie to kiss him, everything goes sour.  Steve bursts in, and the trio beat up a bunch of bad guys.  They get the package and return it to base, where the Beast analyzes it.  Seems they got information about Roxxon getting the Serpent Crown, but the thing inside the package that they got isn’t the Serpent Crown.  It’s something similar, but it’s not the same.  Steve talks to Sharon Carter, the chief of tactical operations for the team, and they have a little alone time.  Elsewhere, Moon Knight and Ant-Man puts some bugs in Roxxon’s headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware.  Moon Knight was recruited because he wants redemption, and Steve was offering it, and Ant-Man was recruited for the same reason and for the chance to be a man, though he wanted girls too.  As Beast, Steve, and War Machine monitor the data, Beast says that Roxxon bought mineral rights to Mars during the Bush administration.  And that’s when the news about the Serpent Crown popped up.  Plus, all the people sent to Mars vanished from the company payrolls, but they were never let go, and there was no accident.  The Secret Avengers’ flying base is spied upon by some mysterious group, and two days later, Steve gathers the team to go to Mars.  War Machine thought Steve had someone checking out Mars, but seems Steve lost contact with him that morning.  That operative is the last member of the team, Nova, who was under fire by some mysterious old alien tanks.  He ended up finding the Serpent Crown and suddenly went under some kind of odd compulsion to pick it up before losing contact.  As the team heads to Mars, Sharon gets attacked by a mysterious group called the Shadow Council, whose leader looks mysteriously like Nick Fury.

Well, now that was a fun first issue.  While “Avengers” is not the first descriptor that comes to mind when I see this motley crew, I guess Steve Rogers can call it whatever he wants.  Some members of the team, like Moon Knight and Black Widow, make perfect sense for a stealth group.  Others, like War Machine and Valkyrie, who are all about brawls and blowing stuff up, make less sense.  And although I can see Steve needing a space operative, wouldn’t it make more sense to call former Avenger Quasar than Nova?  But of course, I am nitpicking.  Ed Brubaker does a great job with his first issue, providing the rationale for a few characters joining (hinting that we’ll find out why the other people joined later) and providing us plenty of action to stay interested.  His characterization is top notch all around, especially with Steve and Sharon, who he knows rather intimately.  Nova is the worst off, since he seems rather generic, but Brubaker did only have a short scene with him this issue.  Of course, Mike Deodato Jr.’s pencils are perfect for this series, and they’re as gorgeous as they’ve ever been.  This series is supposed to be spiritual successor to Dark Avengers, since it’s more down and dirty, even if none of the Dark Avengers are on it, so it’s nice to see Deodato getting to stay in the darkness for a while longer.  He also draws a decent Beast, which is getting harder and harder to find these days.  I have no idea where this series is going, especially with the inclusion of Nick Fury.  Based on future solicitations, this may be some sort of evil Nick Fury (LMD?), maybe some evil other personality, an alternate universe Nick Fury, or maybe even another evil brother.  But Brubaker certainly crafted a brilliant first issue to get me interested in this series, and I trust his work completely.  So I’m sure that this will be awesome.  It’s definitely a ragtag group of people, but then again, lots of Avengers teams are.

Plot: 9.0      Art: 9.3      Dialogue: 9.0      Overall: 9.0

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